Hopefully, you have chosen to recycle your ink and toner cartridges. It would be easy to shower you with all of the bad news about what happens to cartridges that are not recycled and end up in landfills for hundreds of years, polluting our drinking water and endangering future generations – but we won’t do that here. Let’s just talk about what does happen when you hand off your cartridges for recycling.

Every manufacturer’s process differs slightly, but the basic steps in cartridge recycling are the same:

  1. Visual Evaluation – Firstly cartridges are inspected and evaluated. The decision is made to either remanufacture the cartridge (see below), or to consider it “end-of-life” and grind it down in order to recycle its material components.
  2. Disassembly and Sorting – Cartridges that are deemed “end-of-life” are disassembled, and their recyclable materials – mostly plastics – are reclaimed.
  3. Grinding – The reclaimed plastics are ground into small plastic pellets. This same process is, of course, used during any kind of plastic recycling.
  4. ReUse – The plastic grindings are used to create new cartridges, usually through an injection molding process.
  5. New Cartridges – With the new cartridges ready to use, they are refilled, labeled and packaged accordingly.

If, after the evaluation process, the cartridge is deemed as a candidate for remanufacturing, it goes through a different process:

  1. Enhanced Inspection – After the visual inspection that pronounced it worthy of remanufacturing, the cartridges electrical circuits are tested to verify that they still function properly.
  2. Cartridge Preparation – Each cartridge is opened. Any miscellaneous material (foam inserts, etc.) is removed. This process is usually performed robotically.
  3. Preparation and Cleaning – Technicians empty the cartridge of remaining ink and clean it with high-powered spraying systems in preparation for refilling.
  4. Refilling – Using manufacturer-specific fi¬lling techniques, each cartridge is ¬refilled to OEM speci¬fications with ink.
  5. Sealing – A state-of-the-art sealing process ensures a leak-proof cartridge.
  6. Testing – Every cartridge is then tested to ensure that its performance and quality meet industry standards.
  7. Packaging – Completed cartridges are labeled and boxed for resale.

For more information on cartridge recycling, go here.